The TikTok threat theory, which had been quiet for a while, has risen again in the United States after the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) argued that the Chinese ByteDance video platform TikTok should be shut down.
According to the New York Times on the 29th (local time), FCC member Brendan Carr, a Republican member of the FCC, wrote a letter to the CEOs of Google and Apple demanding that TikTok be removed from TikTok on the 24th, saying that there is a risk that user information collected by TikTok could be leaked to the Chinese government. reported to have been sent.
In the letter, Carr argued that “ByteDance employees in Beijing were using TikTok to collect sensitive data about US users,” arguing that this behavior violated Google’s and Apple’s standard policies. He then asked Apple and Google to either remove TikTok from the app store by July 8, or to explain why if they don’t plan to do so.
Commissioner Carr heard based on BuzzFeed News, which recently reported related information. The report covered recordings of an internal meeting suggesting that between September 2021 and January 2022, ByteDance employees in China repeatedly accessed private data of US TikTok users. BuzzFeed News reviewed more than 80 recordings it obtained, and found that TikTok’s security staff say “everything is seen in China” or that an engineer working in Beijing is called a “master administrator” with access to all data. It said 14 statements were found indicating that Chinese employees had access to US data.
TikTok has responded to allegations of personal information leakage by promising that US users’ information is stored in the US, not China. However, regardless of where the US user information is stored, the Chinese headquarters of ByteDance were looking into the information. In response, TikTok said, “We are working to dispel doubts about the data security of American users.
Considering that the FCC has no jurisdiction over App Store content, Reuters said that Ka’s request to remove TikTok was unusual. This is because the FCC is a regulator that typically has only the authority to grant telecommunications licenses to companies.
Carr’s letter is in line with the TikTok threat theory raised during the Donald Trump administration in the past, and the US media analyzed that the US government’s suspicions and pressure on TikTok are still there.
The US government has long been concerned that TikTok’s US user information could leak into China. In the past, the Trump administration has issued an executive order to ban the use of TikTok in the US App Store, raising the possibility that TikTok’s data on users’ networks, locations, and internet searches may be handed over to the Chinese Communist Party. The Biden government is also making moves to strengthen government surveillance of foreign companies that may collect or leak user personal information.
Analysts say that the US government’s tightening of TikTok regulations reflects not only personal information leakage, but also the interests of US IT companies that have TikTok as a competitor. When Facebook, Instagram, Google YouTube, etc. had difficulties maintaining an active user base behind TikTok, the government is supporting them. For TikTok, global business could suffer if the Democratic Party, backed by Silicon Valley, puts on strong pressure.
TikTok announced that it would manage the user information it collects in the US through Oracle, a US company, in order to eliminate concerns that the Chinese government could use US user information, and began to move information to the Oracle Cloud. However, Carr pointed out that even if 100% of US user information is managed through Oracle, it does not mean that the Chinese government does not have access to the data.